How Jaylah learned to believe in herself

When we first met “Jaylah,” it was immediately clear how much she cared for her family – and how badly she wanted to be able to provide for them. At 17, Jaylah is a loving mother to two young children: a two-month-old and a three-year-old. But she was all on her own, with little to no guidance from the adults in her life.

Jaylah had been arrested on a minor simple burglary charge. The District Attorney’s Office recognized that she didn’t belong in prison. However, they refused to close her case until she could show her situation was more stabilized. As is so often the case, though, the court system will dictate the life changes it wants to see children make, but then does nothing to connect said children with the resources or supports needed to achieve those requirements. In Jaylah’s case, the DA gave her just 60 days to make improvements or else she would be prosecuted. Jaylah needed help, and fast.

LCCR took the case. Our first step was to get Jaylah the documentation she needed for living independently. We helped her obtain her birth certificate, and from there a state ID. Jaylah’s LCCR youth advocate, Kara, even went with her to the Office of Motor Vehicles to make sure everything went smoothly. As Jaylah waited in line to have her picture taken, she began to cry. She remembered that a member of her family had once told her she would never get her own ID – and there she was, doing it for herself.

Once Jaylah had her documentation in order, she wanted to go back to school. She had dropped out in the ninth grade when she had her first baby. Nobody from her school had ever checked in on her or tried to get her to go back, so she never did. But now that she had support, she wanted to earn her degree.

Kara helped connect Jaylah with a HiSET program that was flexible with scheduling so she could take classes while still caring for her children. She took her placement test, got enrolled, and excitedly attended orientation. She’s extremely motivated to finish the program – she even texted Kara with information she found online about how much more money people with HiSET degrees are able to make.

Kara also connected Jaylah with resources to better support herself and her children. When she came to us, Jaylah had almost no money to buy groceries and was really struggling to put food on the table. We helped her enroll in the food stamp program. We also helped her access a local food bank and apply for assistance from the state’s Women, Infants, and Children program, which provides critical supplies (diapers, etc.) for her two-month-old.

Jaylah is a bright, loving girl. When she came to us, it was clear that what she really needed was a little human kindness and guidance from an adult who genuinely cared about her well-being. With the support of Kara and LCCR’s staff, we’ve seen Jaylah work so hard to get what she needs for herself and her family.

Jaylah’s case is poised to close within the next month – sooner than originally anticipated because of the amazing progress she’s made. She found supportive adults within her community, a mentor from her HiSET program, and further guidance from a staffer at the food bank. But what’s most inspiring is the shift we’ve seen in her self-confidence. Jaylah had been told her whole life that she wouldn’t amount to anything, and later that she’d fail in caring for her children. Now that she knows she can succeed, she’s discovering her long dormant belief in herself. There’s no telling what Jaylah will go on to achieve in life.

Posted by Cadence Neenanon May 21, 2024and categorized as Awards, Client Story, Events, Featured, News, Reports, Uncategorized